Health Ministry Confirms First Case of Measles in Four Years

Three months after the Health Ministry proclaimed Cambodia measles-free—after tests on a child suspected to be carrying the disease came back negative—it announced on Wednesday that a 7-month-old in Kompong Speu province has contracted the highly contagious virus. It is the first confirmed case in more than four years.

The infection was confirmed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Reference Laboratory in Hong Kong on Monday after being detected on January 15, according to a statement from the Health Ministry dated Tuesday. After receiving confirmation, the ministry began preparations to contain the virus from spreading further, it said.

“Immediately after receiving the laboratory results, the Ministry of Health convened an urgent meeting and dispatched investigation teams to the province for further investigations and to prepare an urgent response,” the statement said.

The new case comes after the WHO declared in March 2015 that Cambodia had eradicated measles, having found no new cases since November 2011. In October, Health Minister Mam Bunheng announced that Cambodia remained measles-free after tests on a suspected case in Kratie province were negative.

Koam Pech, director of the Prey Vihear commune health center in Kong Pisei district, said the baby was discharged from Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha hospital three or four days ago and that health officials were monitoring her.

“It’s really strange because measles is usually found in children who are aged 9 months and above, but this victim is 7 months. It has surprised all of the provincial health department and the ministry,” Ms. Pech said.

Vaccinations would now be provided at the commune health center to all children aged 6 months to 15 years, she added.

“In the past, we gave vaccinations to children aged between 9 months and 15 years, but this village is unique, so tomorrow I will go to vaccinate children aged 6 months and up,” she said.

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